As part of the new normal in this pandemic-struck world we inhabit, almost every business has seen disruptions in its operations. Consumers have quickly adapted to the changes however, as almost overnight, people began to switch to online shopping for their everyday needs. Research shows that 52% of online shoppers won’t ever go back to grocery shopping in-store, and 58% of consumers expect to order more online in the coming months.
It makes sense, now more than ever, for small brick and mortar store owners to think of meeting customer expectations and shifting their businesses online. Having a website for their business has become an indispensable aspect in ensuring that it survives, and possibly even thrives, in these unusual times. But when one is faced with the daunting task of creating a whole website from scratch, it is quite normal to feel a little lost.
Small-business owners looking to start selling online who don’t have the experience or expertise required to go digital shouldn’t let those minor inconveniences stop them! For those confused about what features need to go on an eCommerce site, this list of necessary elements is the right place for clarity before approaching a trusted IT partner who can help them go digital with ease.
Here are some features that are necessary while creating an eCommerce platform for businesses:
A visitor needs to be able to find all the information regarding the business with ease within the website – pages like About Us, FAQs and Contact Us are especially crucial, as they provide the visitor with the necessary information about what the business does, and how they can get in touch offline.
Quality content is a virtual salesperson – it can provide all information a customer needs to know about the product, about the company, and many other details effectively & efficiently. The content should be easy to understand, easy to locate, and relatable to your target audience depending on their gender, age, geographic location, native language, etc.
Ecommerce websites need to provide a seamless experience to their visitors by allowing them to search for products with ease. The visitor needs to be able to easily find what they came to the site looking for, and shouldn’t face any obstacles before they do. The ‘Search’ feature in an eCommerce website is very crucial as research shows that 30 percent of site visitors will use the search functionality, and can generate around 30-60 percent of ALL revenues in a website.
Using an effective analytics mechanism, the website should be able to understand customers’ persona based on their browsing history and suggest relevant alternatives and related items to the one they are viewing. This will heavily contribute to improved customer experience and an increase in revenue for the business.
Giving customers the option to leave their feedback increases the credibility of a brand, attracting more people to the site, and consequently gaining more buyers. Therefore, the provision for User Reviews, while optional, is a definite good-to-have.
A study published by Spiegel Research Center indicates that 95% of shoppers read comments online before making a purchase. This goes to prove the human tendency to believe word-of-mouth marketing over any claims made in an advertisement. User reviews are valuable, and will often turn out to be the best marketing collateral one could hope for.
According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. The reasons for people abandoning items in their shopping carts could be many – they might feel like they don’t have the budget at the moment, or are expecting a sale to come by, or they might have just changed their minds.
One way to cater to each of these customers is to have a “Wishlisting” feature. Wishlisting gives customers the option to save the products they want to buy, but aren’t buying immediately, in an easily findable location within the website.
The website should provide an option for customers to view, modify, or cancel the products they buy. Providing a means to perform these actions without having to take the issue offline enhances a customer’s shopping experience.
Customers should be able to ship a product that they bought to a convenient address and should also have the option to choose their preferred delivery time. Business owners can put thought into whether it would be feasible for them to offer free shipping, which a vast majority of visitors will appreciate. Alternatively, they can charge real-time carrier rates – integrate their shipping options with a real-time carrier’s website to generate their rates and delivery times. They can also choose to charge a flat shipping fee, if their website offers products which are of comparable prices and weights. Even though it might seem hard, it is possible to keep shipping rates competitive without it eating too much into profit margins.
Multiple Payment Options
eCommerce customers should be able to easily and securely make payments with their preferred payment method – it is necessary to include a variety of features here, as certain people prefer credit cards, others may prefer debit cards and some others might even expect a Cash On Delivery option. This means it is imperative to have flexible payment models available on the website, based on varying customer preferences.
According to a survey, over one in five customers may abandon the cart if they need to create a username and password before buying something. Hence customers should be given the option to shop as both a
- Logged in user and
- Guest user
Superior Vendor Management
An eCommerce website with a wide range of products will grab more customers, and this can be accomplished by associating with other sellers who can supply a variety of products that complement their own. A collaborative approach to vendor management or a seamless vendor partnership option is something they need to strategize if they want to survive, together. If this is something they’re aiming to do with the website they build, a vendor management system should be in place too.
While we won’t see brick and mortar stores going away anytime soon, choosing not to go digital is not an option for businesses of the future. Businesses need to explore different avenues like providing in-store pickups of online orders, and evolving hybrid business models that involve retaining both physical and online stores to continue surviving in a post-pandemic stricken world.
Today it is pretty easy, low risk, and low cost to build an eCommerce website. If you’re a small-business owner looking to build an eCommerce website, you can speak to one of our expert consultants who will guide you through the process step by step. Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org